Manitoba black bear rescue wants baby bear cubs reunited with sibling

By | July 26, 2020

A Manitoba black bear rescue group is asking people in Pinawa to be on the lookout for a lone baby black bear cub that needs to be rehabilitated and reunited with its siblings. 

Two cubs from Pinawa were brought in to Black Bear Rescue Manitoba two weeks ago after their mother was shot. Manitoba Conservation was unable to catch their sibling.

“They’re still not acting normal and they’re still not playing. So I’d really like to see them be reunited,” said Judy Stearns, owner of Black Bear Rescue Manitoba, located in Stonewall.

The rescued cubs have only recently begun to perk up, she said. The male cub was lethargic at first and seemed depressed without his mother, and the female would not stop crying at first. The both will now “politely” eat their meals of puppy kibble and produce, Stearns said.

The cubs brought in without their siblings are the only ones who haven’t played yet. 1:15

Manitoba Conservation had been investigating the person who shot the cubs’ mother when she tried to enter a porch in a home near Pinawa. In a statement Sunday, a department spokesperson said the investigation continues.

There have also been a a higher than normal number of incidents involving black bears this year and the most common cause is bird feeders. The province is urging people to remove attractants like bird feeders from their homes. 

Stearns said while the cubs’ progress is encouraging, it’s unusual for the cubs, which she believes are about six months old, to not play.

“They’ve got great appetites, they’re eating lots and growing. So we’re just hoping that the third cub that people are actually seeing almost daily, if they could bring that cub to us it would greatly help the two cubs that are here.”

She said there have been sightings of the remaining cub as recently as this weekend around the Pinawa Golf Club and campground. She’s asking anyone who sees that cub to call the Manitoba Conservation detachment or tip line at 1-800-782-0076.

There are 15 other black bear cubs at Black Bear Rescue Manitoba — making this a record year. The three without their siblings are the only ones that aren’t playing, she said.

In the past, when cubs are reunited after being separated, she’s seen them perk up, play and do better. She believes that will happen with these three cubs, as they’ve already spent six months bonding with each other.

Black Bear Rescue Manitoba is asking people to call Conservation Manitoba if they see this female cub’s orphaned sibling wandering around Pinawa. (Judy Stearns)

A third cub from Richer, Man., that also came to the rescue at the same time as the Pinawa cubs, is also without its sibling. 

Stearns said Manitoba Conservation set up traps for that cub in the area, but it hasn’t been seen or caught.

“The longer, more time goes by, the less likely chances are for a cub like that, so time is of the essence to catch these lone cubs that are still out there,” she said 

Stearns said if people see the lone cubs, they can also move toward it and it will climb a tree, which will make the rescue easier.

Stearns said cubs in the wild will naturally taste and try everything, putting everything in their mouth to see if it’s edible, and can find grass, berries and root around, but without their mother, they won’t eat as much.

The .owner of a Manitoba black bear rescue says these cubs will perk up once they’re reunited with their sibling. 0:18

“They’re really stressed and scared without their mom so they spend a lot of time up in a tree instead of down in the ground eating … they’re always worried so that affects their appetite and the time that they can spend foraging.”

She said cubs are also vulnerable to predators without their mothers.

This cub was recently weaned off of the bottle, which is how the youngest cubs are fed. 0:15

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